Mace, Carillion and Balfour Beatty are among the first companies to sign up to the UK Contractors Group, the new trade association to be launched in January.

The firms will join the current members of the Major Contractors Group and the National Contractors Federation in the new body, which will be headed by Stephen Ratcliffe, the outgoing chief executive of the Construction Confederation.

Willmott Dixon, Midas and Wates are among the other firms that will join the body. Trade associations the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation and the National Federation of Demolition Contractors have also signed up.

The body, which will be chaired by James Wates, will work in partnership with the recently established CBI construction council to lobby on industry issues. Based in the CBI building, the UKCG will focus on industry-specific issues such as safety and the Office of Fair Trading inquiry, while the CBI focuses on more general business issues.

Ratcliffe said: “We’ve planted the flag now and next year will be the test, when we see how many people will follow us.” He said the body was being well received by industry firms despite criticism from some trade bodies that it was an unnecessary move.